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Employers in the motor sector are provoking a national strike

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Employers in the motor sector are provoking a national strike

Employers in the motor sector are provoking a national strike
Photo by Creamer Media

1st August 2022

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/ MEDIA STATEMENT / The content on this page is not written by Polity.org.za, but is supplied by third parties. This content does not constitute news reporting by Polity.org.za.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) met with employers in the motor sector including the Retail Motor Industries (RMI) and the Fuel Retail Association (FRA) for wage negotiations under the auspices of the Motor Industries Bargaining Council (MIBCO). This sector represents employees in components manufacturing companies, petrol stations, and car dealerships. It employs approximately 306 000 workers nationally. NUMSA represents the majority which is at least 90 000 members. 

NUMSA is demanding a 1-year agreement and a 12% across the board wage increase. We represent garage workers, the lowest paid are employed as char’s and are earning a minimum of R21 per hour. Workers and their families are enduring extreme economic distress in South Africa. The cost of living is high. Food prices have sky rocketed and workers are struggling to make ends meet. A 12% increase will make the biggest difference especially for those who are the lowest earners. We reject the narrative that members of the working class should accept poverty wages. The working class is responsible for creating wealth in this country. When economists report GDP growth, they are referring to the sweat and blood and toil of the working class. That growth is only possible because workers’ make it possible. 

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We have had three rounds of wage talks with bosses in the sector since 23rd of March 2022 but with every engagement the employer has not tabled an offer. NUMSA has presented its wage demands. The management keeps demanding that we must reduce our demand, but they have put nothing on the table. They have not made an offer. They may as well have put zero on the table!

The agreement expires on the 30th of August and it is obvious that employers are using delay tactics. They are pushing us into a corner with this behavior and we will be forced to strike. And when we embark on a strike, the very same employers and the media, will blame workers for threatening the sector and the economy. We condemn the employers for this outrageous behavior. This is an attack on workers who are responsible for carrying this sector on their backs during the most difficult times, caused by the covid-19 pandemic. Our members are supporting the backbone of thousands of small and medium sized companies and the employers, are threatening the survival of all of these businesses with their reckless actions, by deliberately provoking our members into embarking on strike action. 

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NUMSA is taking the process of negotiations seriously.  We are calling on employers to do the same. We call on all small business owners to pressurize the FRA and the RMI into going back to the negotiation table because they will suffer the most, should we embark on a nationwide strike. Last year we embarked on a total shut down of the Engineering sector for three weeks, when employers displayed the very same arrogance that we are experiencing now. 

We have declared a dispute with employers. We will be meeting the bosses on the 2nd and 3rd August under the auspices of the Dispute Resolution Committee of MIBCO with the view of breaking the deadlock. We hope to resolve this over the next two days. If, we fail to find one another, then unfortunately we will be headed for a national strike. We will then proceed with picketing rules and insist that a certificate of strike is issued. A strike can be avoided, all we are asking for is meaningful engagement. NUMSA remains ready to talk and we urge them to work with us to resolve this impasse.

 

Issued by NUMSA General Secretary Irvin Jim

 

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